Thursday, October 29, 2009

"Poor esthetic qualities"

September 16, 2009, Alaska Railroad Rail Bridge, Harbor Island, Seattle Washington. Deemed by screeners at a popular web site as having "poor esthetic qualities," MoPac 13900 is more than welcome here. (Spell checkers groan at their use of the uncommon variant of "aesthetic.")

While there certainly is a place for showcasing finely tweaked photographs, here, railroad photography isn't all calendar art or coffee table book material. Here we show the plethora of real railroading activities that take place in the real world rain or shine. There may be backlight or front light or no light. And the scene may be squeaky clean or down right gritty.

The humble transfer caboose lacked the lush overnight facilities of her big over-the-road sisters. But she provided a warm place to get in out of the rain, or fog, or snow. A place to refresh with a cold cup of ice water, a hot cup of soup, or burnt coffee. A place to gobble down a meat loaf sandwich. A place to check the switch list, exchange some friendly banter. A place to wait for superior trains to pass.

There is something poignant about the slow, undignified death of this transfer caboose. Never repainted following the merger of Missouri Pacific with the Union Pacific, MoPac 13900 serves out her final days, disfigured with graffiti, trudging pointlessly back and forth as one of several “idler cars” used in working rail barges.

5 Comments - Click here:

Steve Boyko said...

I guess that is why they are nicknamed "crummies"! :)

I have stopped submitting to a certain popular railway photography site, no doubt the same one you are speaking of. Their criteria are too narrow and too random for me.

Eric said...

Great post, Robert, just wondering why they ended up using cabooses for idlers. Normally it's fully-depreciated, boards-missing flatcars, for visibility if nothing else. Did anyone at the operation explain?

Unknown said...

I love `em. Won't get any complaints here. Sometimes the role of photography is to archive and not necessarily stun the viewer with beauty. Since I'm more of an urban railfan than other styles, I like these photos for what they represent: hard work in a port city.

In thirty years, these will stun the viewer.

SDP45 said...

Maybe they need to sell space on said cabeese to folks like us who would appreciate seeing the loading and unloading process up close and personal!


Peter Hayes said...

I did the same with an ARR caboose, must be the same site.

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